Christianity’s role in combatting belief in witchcraft

Christianity is strong in the region of Melanesia and the church could play a role in influencing people and combatting the belief in witchcraft says Cassaundra Rangip, co-founder of an anti-witchcraft non-government organisation in Papua New Guinea.

She says a recent case of witchcraft related hangings in Vanuatu had raised fears that the phenomenon had extended to other Melanesian nations.

Churches in Melanesia are trying to combat the worst effects of a belief in sorcery and witchcraft, but it’s not an easy task.

That’s according to Fr. Phil Gibbs, Secretary of the Commission for Social Concerns for the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

He says the latest killing of two men in Vanuatu as suspected witches shows that some Melanesian beliefs about spirits can lead to terrible consequences.

At least 20 people have been arrested over the brutal public torture and hanging of two men accused of sorcery in a village in Vanuatu, prompting fears witchcraft attacks may be spreading from Papua New Guinea to other Pacific islands.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind in Vanuatu and follows numerous similar incidents in Papua New Guinea in recent years in which mobs have tortured and killed people – mainly women – accused of sorcery.

Vanuatu MP, Willie Jimmy, says police should have handled the incident on Akam Island differently.

He hasn’t called for the release of the people arrested over the killings, but he says if the law won’t tackle witches, ordinary people will.

He said Melanesian people regard black magic as very real, and people who practice it should get the death penalty.

“As an indigenous Melanesian person, I do believe very strongly that witchcraft does exist among the Melanesian people, they do practice this witchcraft,” he said.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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